Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BR1M) recipients who do not own a car can use the aid to purchase a Proton Iriz in order to generate income as drivers of ride-hailing services like Uber, said treasurer-general Mohd Irwan Siregar Abdullah.
"This will be implemented this year," he told a press conference in Putrajaya today.
The government was negotiating with Proton, Uber and Bank Simpanan Nasional on the matter, he said.
The government in fact encouraged the poor to get themselves out of Bottom 40, he added.
Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak in his Budget 2017 speech announced a RM4,000 rebate on the downpayment of the RM40,000 Proton Iriz, for ride-hailing services drivers.
BR1M recipients get from RM450 to RM1,200 per household, depending on the household income and recipient's marital status.
In an immediate response, PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli said the government might as well just give out RM40,000 BR1M payments.
"I choose to respond to Irwan cynically because he had also said the economy is stable but weighed down by negative perceptions.
"I would like to tell the treasurer-general that proposals like 'poor people should do two jobs like become Uber drivers' as proposed by Prime Minister Najib (Abdul Razak) and 'use BR1M to buy Proton Iriz to become Uber driver' is why investors and the public have lost faith in the economic management of this country," he said in a statement.
Studying different ways to improve BR1M
Irwan said the government was also studying other methods to improve the implementation of the BR1M cash aid.
"We may restructure BR1M so that people can buy food items and essential goods. We are studying how BR1M can be used for training, so they can use BR1M wisely to start their businesses," he added.
Irwan said BR1M is not a form of bribery but rather a sincere handout by the government to assist the low-income group.
"This is not meant to make the recipients dependent on the government, but to help them fulfil their need for basic necessities," he said.
Many countries, including the US, Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Hungary and Indonesia also gave handouts, including food stamps to their people, he said.
"Do these countries give bribes to their people?" asked Irwan.
He also pointed out Selangor and Penang have similar programmes.
"Could these be catogorised as corruption? Definitely not," he said.
"The people should not be fooled by the confusing mindset of those who have their own motives," he said.
"The latest research conducted by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia had showed 83.4 percent of the people agreed to keep BR1M," he said.
He also said BR1M contributed to the economy as the recipients used the money, which ultimately promoted domestic consumption.
To a question why Irwan, a civil servant needed to call for a press conference to address the politic debate of BR1M, he said the press briefing was called to talk about a few issues.
"This press conference is not only (meant to address) BR1M, but to talk about the economy issues, the new normal in the global (scenario)," he said.-Mkini